2022 Detroit Concours’ Best of Show is only surviving “Grand Luxe” Delahaye 135M Roadster Cabriolet
With an original casting of August Rodin’s The Thinker looking on, an indigo blue 1937 Delahaye 135M Roadster Cabriolet in Grande Luxe trim won Best of Show at the inaugural Detroit Concours d’Elegance.
2022 marks the first year of the event, hosted by Hagerty, which builds on four decades of the Concours of America and traces its history to the Meadow Brook Concours. For 2022, the concours was reimagined on the grounds of the Detroit Institute of Arts museum in the Motor City’s cultural center. The Delahaye—chassis #47538, owned by Tom McGough of Shoreview, Minnesota—was chosen over the other two finalists, a 1937 Jaguar SS owned by Mark Hyman and a 1931 Chrysler CG owned by Gallery 260 Ltd. All three finalists are spectacular automobiles.
Though his Delahaye stole the spotlight on this September Sunday, McGough describes himself as “more of a sports car guy.” His collection also boasts a 166 Ferrari and a 2500GT from ATS, the company founded by Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini following a revolt by Ferrari engineers over Enzo’s imperious ways. Not that McGough’s Delahaye 135 isn’t sporting: It has an agile chassis and a high-compression, 120-hp, 3.5-liter inline-six fitted with three downdraft Solex carburetors. The engine is paired with a four-speed, electric-shift gearbox by Cotal, making the 135 a competitive race car and a spirited road vehicle.
Soon after the 135 was introduced at the 1934 Paris Auto Salon, Delahaye merged with fellow luxury-car maker Delage, bringing that brand’s customers into the Delahaye family. That audience was known to crave both performance and elegance, and the Grande Luxe version of the Delahaye 135 gave them just that. There were just seven Grande Luxe versions of the 135 made, and McGough’s roadster was the most elegant of them all, with appointments and trim that made it 70 percent more expensive to build than any of the other six cars. Unique embellishments include grab handles for opening the engine bay that are perhaps the definition of Art Deco design. Not only was chassis #47538 the most expensive of the seven Grande Luxe models made; it’s also the only surviving example.
The body, with its unique, laid-back grille and low-profile fenders, was made by the Parisian atelier of Henry Chapron, Delahaye’s normal supplier of production bodies. The interior features highly figured wood trim from a variety of tree species, matching the tan leather upholstery.
McGough has owned the car for six years. He turned over its restoration to Mike Kleeves’ highly regarded Automobile Metal Shaping, a shop formerly located in the Port Huron, Michigan, area that has since relocated to Morganton, North Carolina. Kleeves may even have been more excited about the win than McGough. Following the restoration’s completion last year, the Delahaye was entered in the Pebble Beach concours, where it won that show’s prestigious French Cup. Now, the car is a Best of Show champion.